2022 Alumni Award Recipients
At Commencement 2022, Pardee RAND awarded four Distinguished Alumni Awards recognizing alumni who have shown long-term leadership, passion, and impact on public service or public policy, and one Rising Star Award to honor an early career professional who has made significant policy contributions within the decade following their Pardee RAND graduation.
Gordon Bitko is ITI’s senior vice president of policy, leading the association’s public sector portfolio and serving as the chief policy strategist for the technology industry in the government and public sector market. In that role, he has testified before Congress on multiple occasions, and works closely with Senior Executive Branch Officials.
Bitko joined ITI from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he served from 2007-2019. Most recently at the FBI, he served as the Chief Information Officer. In that role, he oversaw the FBI’s IT strategy, managed key FBI innovation programs and investments in emerging technologies, directed large Enterprise License Agreements with key technology vendors, and was the senior executive responsible for the FBI's internal Cybersecurity programs.
Previously, Bitko served as FBI’s Chief of the Performance Management Unit (2009-2012) and Chief of Strategy and Performance Section (2012-2016). As Chief of the Strategy and Performance Section, he supervised teams responsible for all aspects of FBI strategy and operational program performance management. As Chief of the Performance Management Unit, he oversaw all of FBI enterprise business intelligence.
Bitko was with RAND Corporation from 2002-2007, as a policy analyst and doctoral fellow. He began his career as an engineer with Motorola. He has a B.S. in engineering from Princeton; an M.S. in mechanical engineering from University of California, Berkeley; an MBA from Arizona State University; and a Ph.D. from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Sai Ma is director of clinical quality at Humana. In this role, she is leading the development of health outcome measures including health equity, and aligning quality measures used across the enterprise. Most recently, she was managing director and senior scientific advisor at the National Quality Forum (NQF), overseeing the measure scientific evaluation and endorsement workstream.
Previously, Ma served at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) between 2012 and 2020 in different roles, including division director in the research and rapid-cycle evaluation group at CMMI, where she supervised a notable team of researchers, overseeing a portfolio of evaluating 15+ large-scale innovation payment models.
She began at the RAND Corporation in 2002 as a policy analyst and earned her PhD in health policy in 2007. She then joined the faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health before becoming associate director of its International Injury Research Unit. Ma has a B.A. in world history, an M.P.A. from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Nick Ramphal is a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, a law firm founded in 1792 and the oldest Wall Street law practice and major law firm in the United States. He regularly advises a broad array of clients, including public and private companies, private equity firms, hedge funds, and financial institutions in some of their most significant and complex mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance needs.
During the course of his career, Nick has been at the forefront in advising many market leading companies in over 60 acquisitions, including more than a dozen mega-mergers exceeding $1 billion in value and, together, having an aggregate deal value of more than $100 billion.
Ramphal holds a LL.M. in corporate law from Harvard Law School, where he was a Harvard-South Africa fellow, and received his LL.B., summa cum laude, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. In addition, he holds a Ph.D. in public policy and economics from the RAND Corporation.
Jack Riley is vice president and director of the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), which provides independent and objective analyses to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He directs RAND's Homeland Security Research Division.
Until January 2022, Riley directed the National Security Research Division (NSRD), home to another Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) operated at RAND under a contract with the U.S. government. From 2008 to 2010, Riley was associate director of NSRD. Before that, he served as associate director of RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE). Prior to joining RAND, Riley worked as a senior civil servant at the U.S. Department of Justice where he focused on crime, immigration reform, drug epidemiology, and domestic terrorism.
Riley has testified before Congress on multiple occasions and has served as a trial observer in Guantanamo. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and a board member at the National Defense University Foundation. A supporter of educating the next generation of national security professionals, Riley has guest lectured at the University of Michigan's Ford School on the role of policy analysis in national security, and given a commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Criminology. He is also on the board of the Fern Hollow Nature Center.
As a researcher, Riley has led and co-led numerous projects on national and homeland security topics, including an evaluation the DOD program providing excess equipment to law enforcement agencies; assessments of passenger rail and airport security; police and security sector reforms in Israel, Mexico, and Afghanistan; and gun violence reduction and police/community relations in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Dallas, and elsewhere. In addition to scholarly reports and journal articles, Riley has written commentaries that have been published in such outlets as The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and the New York Daily News. He's also given interviews with NPR, CBS, the New York Times, and Bloomberg Radio.
Riley holds a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from Pardee RAND Graduate School, an M.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in economics and Russian from the University of Michigan.
Jennifer Walters, the inaugural recipient of the Rising Star Award, is an active duty Air Force Major serving as Lead Speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC. She is also a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council.
A KC-10A instructor pilot, Major Walters led aircrew on air refueling, humanitarian, and contingency operations across the globe. She deployed four times in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, INHERENT RESOLVE, and RESOLUTE SUPPORT, completing over 100 combat sorties. She is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and holds a Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Guided by a commitment to mentorship through writing, she serves on the editorial board of From the Green Notebook and was a contributing founder to the military journal Thought to Action. She is also the co-founder of Air Mobility Command's Reach Athena that identifies and addresses female and family-centric barriers to readiness. As an Olmsted Scholar, Major Walters will study international security policy in Aix-en-Provence, France, for her next assignment.